Taming the Forest King
Author: Claudia J. Edwards
Publication Date: 12/1/86
Publisher: Warner Books
The distant Forest Province had been torn apart by corruption and rebellion. On the direct orders of her king, Tevra, Colonel of the Light Cavalry, arrives in this strange land with instructions to restore order - at swordpoint, if need be.
Yet no steel blade can hold sway in a realm where shapes of death can be fashioned from the still of the air. And even the most ungodly works of the sorcerers pale before the mysterious powers of the Forest King himself - but is he Tevra's ally, or her deadliest foe?Review:
Imagine the scene: a kick-ass heroine begrudgingly sets aside her military uniform to pour herself into an elaborate red ball gown (which of course she looks fabulous in) and attend a ball in her honor. Upon entering the room, she’s approached by a gorgeous, powerful man. She immediately notes that he “smells of almonds and sunshine,” and then feels a “storm of lust” as they dance the first dance together. Their eyes connect, and she feels an instant tug of connection.
If you’re like me, then your eyes were probably rolling out of their sockets around line two of that description. BUT NOW, just imagine that the heroine says this to that man:
“…forgive me, but I wasn’t in love with you. I wanted you. That’s a very different thing.”
And then she suggests that they have a one-night stand to get it out of their systems – right after she fights a duel on her own behalf and negotiates peace with a forest full of bandits, of course.
YES! I feel like I’ve been waiting and waiting for this day – the day when a romance novel could surprise me this much. Here’s my not-so-secret secret: I love
romance novels. But I also hate romance novels. I get so tired of feeling disappointed again and again and again: by heroines who are spineless, by heroines who are unrealistically tough, by heroes who are alpha male stalkers, by love stories that are little more than embellished lust, and by endings that are neat little happily-ever-after packages. I’ve read those stories, and they weren’t very interesting the first time around. And yet, they just keep getting written.
And so to this book I say: where have you been all my life?!
Well, it turns out that this book has in fact been around for almost my entire
life. It was published when I was five years old! I’m only sad that it’s taken me twenty five years to read it. And I’m very sad that this author is no longer with us, but I intend to read everything she ever wrote now.
I love that Tevra both fits and breaks the mold for romance novel heroines. She’s a powerful, brave, heroic woman who can also wear a dress. But she also feels like a very realistic soldier: she’s cool, experienced, and logical – although sometimes a bit too
logical. She’s of medium height, in her thirties, has short practical hair, and is scarred from battle. She’s definitely not one of those heroines who is supposed to be an experienced soldier and yet also has ankle length hair that brings all the boys to the yard, if you know what I’m saying. She’s a genuine badass! But Tevra is vulnerable too – even in a world where women are able to enter the military and hold rank, she faces challenges and she faces them with more intelligence than brawn.
But this book isn’t just about Tevra going around kicking butt and ruling the day. This is a true romance novel, of the rarest type: one that features a deep, substantial, wonderful love story that’s based on so much more than just stupid lust (although a little bit of lust, of course). I also need to mention here that this book includes a love triangle, and here's the amazing part: it didn't make me want to vomit. AND, she didn't turn one of the suitors into a complete douche bag just to make the decision easier. There's nothing simple or easy about this romance.
And never fear! This book has a wonderful, happy ending that was so satisfying I actually got a bit teary eyed about it. It’s like everything that I’ve ever wanted to read in a romance novel was distilled and placed into this one book. I can’t recommend it enough!
Many thanks to my blogging partner Flannery for sending me this book without telling me anything about it and ordering me to read it.
P.S. – that cover? With the chain mail mini dress and weird monster? And that title? Have almost nothing to do with this book.Perfect Musical Pairing
Radiohead – House of Cards
I don’t want to be your friend; I just want to be your lover.
A Discovery of Witches
Author: Deborah Harkness
Publication Date: 2/8/11
Publisher: Viking Adult
Blurb(GR): A richly inventive novel about a centuries-old vampire, a spellbound witch, and the mysterious manuscript that draws them together. Deep in the stacks of Oxford's Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break
Debut novelist Deborah Harkness has crafted a mesmerizing and addictive read, equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense. Diana is a bold heroine who meets her equal in vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont, and gradually warms up to him as their alliance deepens into an intimacy that violates age-old taboos. This smart, sophisticated story harks back to the novels of Anne Rice, but it is as contemporary and sensual as the Twilight series-with an extra serving of historical realism.
Review: This book kept me hanging on just enough to stop me from abandoning it. I’m not really sure who this book is aimed at; it’s a very pedestrian, traditional romance wrapped up in a nearly 600 page, painfully slow tale filled with history and science. It’s a bit like a Hallmark card wrapped up in an encyclopedia. The history and science buffs will be turned off by the cheesy center, and the romance lovers will resent having to wade through pages of endless description and detail just to get to the good stuff. And speaking of “the good stuff” – there isn’t any. If I am going to struggle my way through a sappy romance, the least I would expect is a good sex scene!
The female lead is Diana, who is a highly intelligent woman and well respected in her field. She’s also the daughter of two powerful witches who were murdered when she was seven years old. Traumatized by their deaths, she turns her back on magic and devotes her life to study. When she accidentally pulls a heavily enchanted manuscript from the Bodleian library and is somehow able to open it, she draws the attention of the supernatural communities. Matthew, a biochemist vampire with many secrets and motivations of his own, seeks out Diana to investigate.
The main thing that turns me off about this book is the cast of characters. Matthew will be startlingly familiar to any reader of paranormal romance. He’s a perfect physical specimen, with vast wealth (including several ancient homes which he built himself), a guilt-inducing past, and a tendency to be an overly protective, patronizing control freak. He also likes to name drop famous historical figures that he’s known, drone on and on about wine and spout obnoxious lines like, “Will you never wait until I help you?” And, despite being alive for 1,500 years, he apparently still thinks that women are incapable of feeding and clothing themselves or knowing when they’re tired (Don’t worry, he’ll give you sedatives without your knowledge if you try to disagree). He’s the kind of guy who says, “I might not be able to control myself if you step away” after a first kiss, then spends the rest of the book avoiding consummating the relationship, because “there’s plenty of time” even though at this point the characters have become very committed. Diana is the otherwise intelligent woman who acts like a child whenever she’s in his presence. She has to be bullied and bated into using her powers, and saved time and time again by Matthew. Despite Matthew’s continual marveling about how powerful and strong she is, her strength is barely in evidence.
This book needs some serious trimming. This author is clearly a very bright, intellectual woman and she has a ton of ideas. I just wish she hadn’t put all of them in this one book. She manages to cram in alchemy, paranormal groups, magic, evolution, mythology, medieval knights, politics, DNA testing, yoga, and wine tasting, not to mention time travel before this book is done. There are also four chapters (out of about forty) that are written in third person following Matthew, instead of the first person (Diana) perspective that’s used for the rest of the book. It’s as if she feels the need to show the reader absolutely everything that’s going on, everywhere. This book would have been so much better if she had kept a few ideas in reserve. Some of the topics, like the wine tasting and the yoga,
serve no purpose to the story, except perhaps to make Matthew seem even more pretentious.
I did enjoy much of the science and history, but there were too many niggling little scientific inaccuracies to keep me spellbound. For instance, Matthew has apparently mapped the DNA of enough witches and other supernatural beings to be able to locate and identify markers of different magical powers, not to mention create a map of the different lineages of witch families. However, he is somehow unable to use the same information to determine whether the different supernatural groups (witches, vampires, and daemons) are genetically related. For all of the author’s vast intelligence, I’m not sure that she really understands evolution either. I’m not one who typically nit-picks stories on the technical details, but this book is so agonizingly slow and the sappy romance is such a turn off for me – I found myself focusing on the little details more and more.
This book is absolutely not for me. However, if you are an intellectual person with a love of sweet, "courtly love" type romances, and macho-man heroes, then I think you might like this one.
Working Stiff (Revivalist, #1)
Author: Rachel Caine
Publication Date: 8/2/11
Publisher: RocBlurb (GR):
Bryn Davis knows working at Fairview Mortuary isn't the most glamorous career choice, but at least it offers stable employment--until she discovers her bosses using a drug that resurrects the clientele as part of an extortion racket. Now, Bryn faces being terminated--literally, and with extreme prejudice.
Wit the help of corporate double-agent Patrick McCallister, Bryn has a chance to take down the bigger problem--pharmaceutical company Pharmadene, which treats death as the ultimate corporate loyalty program. She'd better do it fast, before she becomes a zombie slave--a real working stiff. She'd be better off dead...Review:
There are some kindred spirits working at TNT/TBS/USA who choose which movies to show regularly on the weekends. It's like they somehow know that I will ALWAYS watch Overboard, What About Bob?, Hook, Father of the Bride, and about a billion other movies--and there must be tons more people just like me that regularly think about dressing up as Bob Wiley for Halloween every year because why else would they be showing the same movies unless people are watching them? Death Becomes Her, which you may or may not remember as MY FAVORITE MERYL STREEP MOVIE EVER EVEN INCLUDING HER MANY AWARD-WINNING PERFORMANCES, is always on basic cable on the weekends...and I pretty much know it by heart. It is just so bizarre, I mean, Bruce Willis, Goldie Hawn, Meryl Streep, and Isabella Rossellini in a movie about two women dueling over a balding mortician and then taking a potion to life forever? That's pure cinematic gold. I saw Rachel Caine at an event last weekend
and you can't really tell by looking at someone but I'm pretty sure she also likes Death Becomes Her. Evidence:
Question 1: Did you die at some point? If yes, move on to question 2. If no, congratulations! You are alive!
Question 2: Are you somehow still walking around and "living" to a varying degree? If yes, congratulations (?), you are a zombie!
Some people might say that you need to be craving brains to be a zombie. Then again, some people think bands like Nickelback and Creed make good music. Bryn, the MC of this book, dies and is subsequently revived by a chemical compound that must be taken daily to maintain her zombie, oops, I mean revived person's body. I know what you're thinking here--that's hot. You totally would be attracted to an animated, walking, talking, thinking corpse, right? Wait...something's not right here. We had a discussion at book club about whether or not the romantic element in this book was off-putting and it totally was to me BUT it is mostly for one reason and surprisingly, it isn't because Bryn is revived. Patrick sees her die. He sees her as a dead body. He sees her beat up, shot, and basically mangled and then sees her tissue regrowing in front of him. Um, that's gross. That is a constant reminder that the person you are looking at is artificially alive. Necrophilia is so in right now. I couldn't truly get on board with it in this particular book but she does basically live a normal life so I'm not ruling out romance with some future guy who doesn't know she's dead (SPOILER ALERT FOR HIM! "Hey, I've been meaning to tell you...I can't have kids." "Oh, is it something genetic?" "Meh, actually I'm a reanimated corpse. No biggie.")
Overall, the mystery and intrigue were entertaining and the series started off with enough world-building and quirky characters that I'll come back for more. (*cough*some of the side characters are more interesting than the main girl*cough*) Since Bryn was in the military, I expected much more badassery to be happening but she gets punched out pretty regularly. Perhaps she'll really come into her zombie self in future Revivalist series books? Until then, you can most likely find me watching What About Bob? on repeat...
I haven't fully signed on for the new zombie love story trend in books and I'm sure many people would try to argue with me about the main character in this book not being a zombie, so here's a quick two-question quiz to find out if you are a zombie:
Something About You
Author: Julie James
Publication Date: 3/2/10
Of all the hotel rooms rented by all the adulterous politicians in Chicago, female Assistant U.S. Attorney Cameron Lynde had to choose the one next to 1308, where some hot-and-heavy lovemaking ends with a death. And of all the FBI agents in Illinois, it had to be Special Agent Jack Pallas who gets assigned to this high-profile homicide. The same Jack Pallas who still blames Cameron for a botched crackdown three years ago- and for nearly ruining his career.
Work with Cameron Lynde? Are they kidding? Maybe, Jack thinks, this is some kind of welcome-back prank after his stint away from Chicago. But it's no joke; the pair is going to have to put their rocky past behind them and focus on the case at hand. That is, if they can cut back on the razor-sharp jibes- and smother the flame of their sizzling-hot sexual tensionReview:
I think I need to separate funny-romance-lover me from police-procedural-loving me. At first, I thought I'd be really into this one because it deals with the FBI and an assistant US Attorney. I did like it but I think I just read a lot of crime novels and I was like, "Why wouldn't the FBI have checked
for that?" and "Oh man, he totally would've been reprimanded for something like that." The author definitely knows what she is talking about--especially once you look at her author blurb and realize that she is basically writing her life. (Whoa, if she has a real life Jack Pallas, I don't know why she'd ever leave the house. Zing!) I just hate reading about cops/FBI agents making stupid mistakes.
I liked the secondary characters in this one but I feel like they were one step above cliché. (the harried best friend getting married, the gay best friend, the cop partners) I think the best side characters in the whole novel were the two cops who had the night duty to watch over Cameron and they knew everything about her life--now THAT was pretty hilarious. The actual relationship between Cameron and Jack was entertaining but I didn't really buy it--it just went from hate to love way too quickly and we never actually saw them share any interests. They had tons of sexual attraction, sure, but it seemed like their relationship was based on attraction and then, to a lesser extent, respect for that person's professional choices and ethics. Not that the sexy scenes weren't hot. They were. I just want my romance characters to share a little bit more about their lives.
I don't read a ton of romances; I mostly just follow Nora Roberts
and Susan Elizabeth Phillips
. I ended up enjoying this book enough to add Julie James
to my list of romance authors to follow...but I hope they don't all deal with crime/legal work.
Edit: Uh oh, it turns out they are all legal work-related romances. I just don't know.
The Perfect Neighbor (MacGregors, #11)
Author: Nora Roberts
Publication Date: 2/1/99
Brooding loner Preston McQuinn's new apartment, like his life, was just the way he wanted it -- dark and empty. But when sunny Cybil Campbell came barging into his well-ordered gloom, he couldn't deny a grudging fascination with his bright, bubbly neighbor. And then she tried to hire him -- as her date! Preston thought he'd closed the door on love for good, so why was he suddenly longing to open up his heart to his incredibly perfect neighbor?Review:
I discovered Nora Roberts
' books my freshman year in college. Rather, my college roommate forced them on me and I devoured almost her entire catalog and still continue to do so. To this day, we have really great conversations that go something like this:F:
Oh! She is
a MacGregor. Her mom was the woman with the broken-down car that married...M:
The recluse cartoonist in Maine! Right! But what about that piano one?F:
The piano player with the red-headed Stanislaski daughter? M:
Oh right, that's Waiting for Nick
. Weren't the across the hall neighbors as well? I think I want to read the second Dream Trilogy book. The one about Kate...F:
...how the hell do you remember their names? I always get Honest Illusions
, Hidden Secrets
, Private Scandals
, and Sweet Revenge
mixed up. There was one about a talk show, the jewelry heist, the magicians in New Orleans...oh! and the one where...
Anyway, my point is that Nora Roberts
has a lot of die-hard fans, both of us included. We can have discussions for eons about all the plots and characters of her books but is that why any of us come back to them over and over? Well, kind of. But mostly it is because of the feeling they give you. If you are in the mood to read a HEA book, Nora is a great go-to. Once you read enough of them, the plotlines seem formulaic--even the murder mysteries--but I will keep coming back for more. They are somewhat like reading an ice cream sundae but they have more meat to them (in terms of witty dialogue, humor, and that NR can actually weave a good story). Now I am thinking about a meaty ice cream sundae. Gross. Talk about a mixed metaphor.
So you don't have to work on that mental image alone...
I remembered particularly enjoying this book on prior read-throughs but I never reviewed most of the Noras I've read. (nor has anyone, as this book seems to have mostly one-liner reviews) So, perhaps a quick plot reminder is in order for people like me that read bazillions of NR books and need to remember which one this is:
Cybil Campbell is the daughter of Genvieve Grandeau and Grant Campbell, the artist and cartoonist who fell in love in The MacGregors: Alan & Grant
. They are related to the MacGregor clan indirectly through Grant's sister Shelby, who marries Alan MacGregor (the politician son of THE MacGregor) in the same book. Whew, what a mouthful. In typical MacGregor fashion, THE MacGregor has dropped Preston McQuinn, a Pulitzer winning playwright and author across the hall in the same apartment building. Enter the brooding-reserved-once-burned-by-a-woman-now-scared-of-commitment man vs. the bubbly-super-friendly-always-thinking-of-others-before-herself woman romance storyline. SPOILER ALERT! They fall in love.
It wasn't as great as I remembered it being but not too many books are as amazing one the second or third time through. (don't draw and quarter me! I know lots of classics are rereadable!) We just had a discussion at book club about books that are a different experience each time you reread them due to changed life circumstances for the reader. Maybe that's what happened to me here. The female in this story is 24, super successful, and completely self-sufficient. Maybe I just feel a little embarrassed to say that she seemed to have it more together than I do at the moment so yeah, I think that tainted my read a little bit. I need to find a Nora book that has someone just a bit older in it for my #2 pick. (which is pretty much all of them)
This was a great pick to start off my 'Nothing But Nora' week with Vinaya and Maureen. I think we should make this a yearly thing!
Born in Fire (Born In Trilogy, #1)
Author: Nora Roberts
Publication Date: 10/1/94
Blurb (Amazon):Artist Maggie Concannon creates beautiful glass images through a blowpipe and with a fiery furnace, much as she herself was born and survived her mother's angry frustrations and resentment. Then Maggie falls in love with Rogan, her new agent, who brings her passion, fame, and riches. Roberts's unique characters come to life through their wordplay and tempers. A light, fast-paced novel set in the Irish countryside.Review:When I was little, I used to have this ridiculous dress purse that I'd carry around with me. Most little girls would probably fill their purses with makeup or toys, but what did I fill mine with? Tiny glass figurines. Our family would go to Vancouver and I would salivate over tiny blown glass unicorns. They were like crack to tiny Flann. I hoarded them and carried them around but I did not exercise due care with them--I'd wrap them in toilet paper to attempt to keep them whole but, in the end, I had more of a collection of maimed glass animals. The point of this story is for you all to know that I am predisposed to think anything that has to do with blown glass is awesome. Even though I no longer have an affinity for unicorns or glass tchotchkes, I still get a major boner for blown glass art that is well-done. Aaaaaand, that is one of the reasons I love this book so much. Mary Margaret Concannon (Maggie), the heroine of Born in Fire, makes fabulous glass art. (well, it is described fabulously and in my imagination it is pretty much my sweetest dream)
Maggie lives in the west of Ireland (another major love of mine) in a cottage near her childhood home. Her sister, Brianna, runs a small bed and breakfast out of Blackthorn Cottage and cares for their heinous mother, who has nothing but awful things to say about Maggie and spends her days complaining about her lot in life. While Maggie has had relative success with her artistic endeavors, she’s always hoped that she could make enough money to move their mother to her own home so Brianna could actually live her own life. Enter Rogan Sweeney, a Dublin businessman who runs an international corporation and owns several large galleries. He approaches Maggie to manage her work and make her the money she’s dreamed about.
Besides the glass art and County Clare in Ireland, I love this book because of the romantic relationship. Maggie is hard-headed, disorganized, passionate and temperamental—she knows exactly what she does and doesn’t want. Rogan seems like her complete opposite but, in reality, he’s very similar to her…only much more organized. The two fight quite a lot during the book but it never gets to the point of legitimate meanness, which is something I hate in some romance novels. The romance IS the story in this book, as opposed to many Nora Roberts books that center on some mystery or other storyline. If you don’t want to read about making art, describing art, and selling art, than this book will bore you. Because I eat that stuff up, I am happy that this book still performed for me, even after 3 or 4 reads.
This book is a comparative 5 stars. Is it as fabulous as lit fic books I’ve given 5 stars to? No. But in terms of romance books, I just love it.
Island of Flowers
Author: Nora Roberts
Publication Date: 5/1/92
Blurb (GR):Laine Simmons had traveled to Hawaii to reconcile with her long-estranged father -- only to be accused by his handsome young business partner of having ulterior motives. How dare Dillon O'Brian interfere in her family affairs . . . and have the nerve to set her heart aflame whenever he came near?Review:HELL HATH FROZEN OVER. I never thought I'd see the day that I would hate a Nora Roberts book. I hated this so much, I felt like Madeline Kahn from Clue when she describes why she killed Yvette.
Flames, FLAMES, on the side of my face.
It all started out innocently enough--a twenty-something woman goes to Hawaii to find the father she hasn't seen in 15 years. At the airport, an attractive man offers her a charter flight to the island of Kauai, where her father is. As it turns out, the guy is her father's business partner. On, no joke, page 5 or 6, while they are still on the effing plane, he kisses her. (unwanted) He proceeds to treat her like dogshit for most of the entire book and accuse her of ulterior motives for reappearing in her father's life. (money, obviously)
THIS WHOLE BOOK COULD BE AVOIDED IF SHE JUST EFFING TOLD HER FATHER WHAT A JERK HER MOTHER WAS.
There was a whole lot of, "here's why I am like this but DON'T TELL ANYONE!!!!!?:ESDKJFEOKLNM" going on. Barf. And a whole lot of rape-kissing. There was absolutely no chemistry between the two characters. I felt like giving up on this book more times than I can count and it is only 165 pages long.
This was one of her first books and it totally shows. I've probably given Nora Roberts more than $1,000 of my money over the years. (no joke) Today, when I was cleaning out my garage, I found 4 sets of double books. (hello bookswap) I must own over 150 of her books. So I feel no remorse in saying that this is BY FAR the worst of hers I've ever encountered. The only redeeming point was that there was a double rainbow across the sky in the book.
Darkfever (Fever, #1)
Author: Karen Marie Moning
Publication Date: 10/31/06
MacKayla Lane’s life is good. She has great friends, a decent job, and a car that breaks down only every other week or so. In other words, she’s your perfectly ordinary twenty-first-century woman.
Or so she thinks…until something extraordinary happens.
When her sister is murdered, leaving a single clue to her death–a cryptic message on Mac’s cell phone–Mac journeys to Ireland in search of answers. The quest to find her sister’s killer draws her into a shadowy realm where nothing is as it seems, where good and evil wear the same treacherously seductive mask. She is soon faced with an even greater challenge: staying alive long enough to learn how to handle a power she had no idea she possessed–a gift that allows her to see beyond the world of man, into the dangerous realm of the Fae….
As Mac delves deeper into the mystery of her sister’s death, her every move is shadowed by the dark, mysterious Jericho, a man with no past and only mockery for a future. As she begins to close in on the truth, the ruthless Vlane–an alpha Fae who makes sex an addiction for human women–closes in on her. And as the boundary between worlds begins to crumble, Mac’s true mission becomes clear: find the elusive Sinsar Dubh before someone else claims the all-powerful Dark Book–because whoever gets to it first holds nothing less than complete control of the very fabric of both worlds in their hands…Review:
I started this book to see what all the hoopla was about on Goodreads. People are crazy for it! After reading the first installment, I can totally see why that is. I fell into the storyline extremely quickly and devoured the book in two days. (I would've read it in one sitting if I'd had the time!)
While I thoroughly enjoy most urban fantasy-type books (I don't want to pigeonhole this book into any one category--it truly has a lot of...well, a lot of genres:)), I found it refreshing that Karen Marie Moning
left out most of the fluff. I'm sick of reading about "nice vampires" and romantic interludes with all sorts of supernatural beings. This book has a little romance but, for the most part, those storylines are left open for the later books in the series. At least, I hope they are played out later. *crosses fingers*
And don't get me wrong, Moning definitely leaves in some fluffier elements. MacKayla Lane is a girly-girl to the max but I also found that refreshing considering the number of kickass-perfect-at-everything-and-not-concerned-with-looks heroines in urban fantasy books. I found her less annoying than Sookie Stackhouse and, while they both make tons of ridiculous decisions, I didn't mind Mac's because they led to such well-written fight scenes and descriptions of crazy-ass monsters. Speaking of the monsters and the entire cast of characters, I wish this book series was a TV show or movie--I'd love to see an imagining of this world!
Anyway, I don't want to beat a dead horse--there are tons of good reviews already for this book and now you know I feel pretty much the same way as the majority. And you spent 30 seconds figuring that out:)
On to the next! (which I have on hold at the library:) Yay!)
P.S. Once upon a time, an idiotic American girl went to Ireland. (Don't get your panties in a bunch, the girl is me, not Mac) Upon arrival with her friends, she left her purse in a taxi cab with lots of money and her passport. (Yes, I am that stupid). At the hostel, the front desk people were adamant that the driver would bring it back. Wha-wha-wha-whaaaat? And you know what? HE DID at the end of his shift. (I know, right?) Anyway, the point of this is that I did not believe all these meanies were running around Ireland. From my trips there, I can tell you that everyone is beyond nice!
Authors: Michael M. Jones, Anya Levin, Victoria Pond, and Brandi Guthrie. Edited by Jennifer Levine
Publication Date: 2/27/11
Publisher: Circlet Press, Inc.Blurb (GR):
This anthology of erotic fantasy features stories inspired by the cover photo. Writers were challenged to use the photo as their muse or inspiration and to let their imagination take over from there. The result is a collection of stories at once nostalgic and looking toward the future, finished off with a dash of hope and a sprinkle of romance.
Everyone knows the phrase "a picture is worth a thousand words." But what if the picture begs for more than a thousand words? This anthology features stories that were inspired by the cover photo. Writers were challenged to use the photo as their muse or inspiration and to let their imagination take over from there. The result is a collection of stories at once nostalgic and looking toward the future, finished off with a dash of hope and a sprinkle of romance.
Michael M. Jones's "Devil's Masquerade" takes us through an erotic masquerade filled with disguised nobles, following the lovers Agents Starling and Grace as they search for a rogue sex demon; Brandi Guthrie's "The Seer's Mask" lets us into the mind of Gadeah, a powerful seer tormented by the lack of meaningful love in her life; Victoria Pond's "Heir Apparent" tells of His Lady Highness, a princess forced into playing the role of a knight after both her brother and husband are killed, who discovers a long-lost loved one hidden in a tower far away; and Anya Levin's "An Unusual Legacy" explores a futuristic world in which a group of rebels creates Freedom, an invitation-only chance to temporarily experience life without the constant informative babble of the identification interface.
Through this compilation of stories, editor Jennifer Levine has once again given readers the chance to get to know an interesting variety of characters, desires, and circumstances, proving that a picture really can be worth much more than a thousand words.
Devil's Masquerade by Michael M. Jones
The Seer's Mask by Brandi Guthrie
Heir Apparent by Victoria Pond
An Unusual Legacy by Anya LevinReview:Devil’s Masquerade
by Michael M. Jones-- Writing
- 4/5 Story
- 3/5 Spiciness
In this short story, two undercover ducal agents are infiltrating a Devil’s Masquerade evening where the highest echelon of society gathers to engage in a night of debauchery. An incubus or succubus has been sighted in the area and the two agents are tasked to weed the demon out of the crowd, because everyone knows a sex demon can’t say no to a night of zero inhibitions. I don’t want to spoil the seksy times but I was
surprised that it was lady on lady action. I’m glad to see this story being written but it did absolutely nothing for my nether regions. (Erm, awkwardness) Continuing with the awkwardness, I find the idea of orgies fascinating. How people can just let go completely and then, presumably, return to their everyday lives I may never know. What if you saw the person you caroused with somewhere random? Also, I’ve always wanted to go to a masquerade ball. Sometimes I think that if I ever get married, it would be pretty sweet to have a masquerade ball wedding…then I realize that I hate that kind of stuff (themed weddings) and I’d hate myself a little bit for doing something like that. I’d better settle on a masquerade ball-themed New Year’s Eve party and cross it off my bucket list. (which I also don’t have) Michael M. Jones
is skilled enough in his writing. I’m sometimes wary of ebook releases but there were absolutely no editing errors that drove me up the wall which was refreshing and I quite liked Jones’ style. My only gripe—there seemed to be waaaay too much silk flowing around curves and between legs and, well, everywhere. I mean, I like silk as much as the next girl…actually, maybe I don’t. The Seer’s Mask
by Brandi Guthrie Writing
- 3/5 Story
- 3/5 Spiciness
- 3/5 The Seer’s Mask
is about, wait for it, a seer that places irremovable masks on prisoners of war. Gadeah, the seer in question, is head of a group of Sisters who rule the kingdom and Aamir is a sexy POW who I picture to look like Khal Drogo (HOT). Anyway, Aamir wears the seer’s mask and he is relegated to be Gadeah’s sexual slave, though she has never utilized his services despite her impotent consort. Guess what? Not fo long, bitches. This story takes place almost exclusively in the bedroom and I totally would’ve given it 4 stars in the spiciness department if it weren’t for a few sentences that had to do with areolae and sacs…ew. Buzz Killington.
Short stories are hard for me because I always want more of everything—character development, plot, description, and that is just not possible. Especially in the case of an erotica anthology where the authors have to include sex scenes in their short page allotment. I think this story of Ms. Guthrie’s could easily be elaborated into a longer novella or inserted into a full-length novel and I would read it. Just less mentions of those aforementioned words, please! Heir Apparent
by Victoria Pond Writing
- 4/5 Story
- 3/5 Spiciness
- 3/5 Heir Apparent
feels like a short story written in a well-established fantasy realm. Margaret, heir to the throne since the death of her brother and husband, is sent on a soothsayer’s quest to find one whom she believed to be lost forever and, since this is part of an erotica anthology, I think we all know what she finds at the end of her quest. The writing was fluid and I enjoyed the fact that there was more dialogue and a sense of humor inserted into this story. I was/am skeptical about some aspects of the story (climbing a tower in full armor? I don’t think that is possible. ) However, I was invested in this story’s characters more so than in the preceding stories—I only wish there was, and excuse the pun (or don’t), more completion
in the sex department. As it is, it is a bit unfulfilling.
My only other minor annoyance was about how/why he
was in the tower. Unanswered questions abound but I guess it is a good sign that I enjoyed it enough to want to know
the answers. This is the perfect time to fess up that I know the author of this short story. Also that I will saturate her with wine at the next book club until she answers ALL the questions for me. Bwahahahaha. An Unusual Legacy
by Anya Levin Writing
- 3/5 Story
- 2.5/5 Spiciness
Oo-ee, voyeurism and
sex with a stranger? Obviously, this is one hot little story. However, I had to reread the first two pages three times before I resigned myself to having no clue what was going on. Maybe it is because I was reading it in the middle of the night or perhaps I am an idiot? Hopefully it is the former, otherwise I should probably give my degrees back. Anyway, this one kind of reads like The Matrix except when the main character takes the red pill and goes down the rabbit hole, it is sexy time with strangers and Laurence Fishburne isn’t there telling her what to do. This story was rather frustrating because I loathed the setup, loved the middle, and thought the ending was interesting if still a little bit confusing. I’d love to blurb the plot but I would probably muddle it up--how depressing is that? Either way, I wish Ms. Levin would’ve just simplified it, taken out the entire Jenny/Leonie love backstory and proceeded with a standard VR-type storyline.
Overall, I thought this anthology was well done. The editing was fabulous and I didn’t find any errors—a wonder in the ebook world! (Seriously, I find errors in my Kindle books all the time—even the ones with major releases.) All four stories were entertaining and varied enough to keep my interest. I only wonder who the primary audience is for the book—it seems like there is something for everyone and that is a risky move to take. Being something for everyone almost necessarily means that a lot of the book might not appeal to each reader. Regardless, it is worth its $3.99 price tag and I’d definitely read more from each of the authors. It was interesting to see how the prompt picture inspired their stories and if any readers know of any more good picture prompted anthologies, rec them to me because I enjoyed the idea.
Call Me Irresistible (Wynette, Texas, #6)
Author: Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Publisher: William Morrow
R.S.V.P. to the most riotous wedding of the year . . .
Lucy Jorik is the daughter of a former president of the United States.
Meg Koranda is the offspring of legends.
One of them is about to marry Mr. Irresistible—Ted Beaudine—the favorite son of Wynette, Texas. The other is not happy about it and is determined to save her friend from a mess of heartache.
But even though Meg knows that breaking up her best friend's wedding is the right thing to do, no one else seems to agree. Faster than Lucy can say "I don't," Meg becomes the most hated woman in town—a town she's stuck in with a dead car, an empty wallet, and a very angry bridegroom. Broke, stranded, and without her famous parents at her back, Meg is sure she can survive on her own wits. What's the worst that can happen? Lose her heart to the one and only Mr. Irresistible? Not likely. Not likely at all.
I had book club on Saturday and we talked about the different types of readers and how what you read affects your ratings and reviews on Goodreads. If you are a heavy enough GR user, you know who the people are in every group— It’s funny to read the reviews of romance books that primarily lit fic readers write. It’s also funny to read the reviews of, well, more complicated reads done by people who do not usually venture into those realms. That’s why I am a fan of Vinaya’s “comparative 5 stars” shelf…but not enough of a fan to go through all my books and change all my ratings. At least for me, there are some books that I rate 4 or 5 stars that might not get the same rating when compared to books in other genres but that definitely stand out amongst their direct competitors. However, there are obviously always those that will hold their own against even the most nitpicky readers. Anyway, I love Susan Elizabeth Phillips books. Compared to other books in her genre, she is consistent in her plotwork and writing. I know that I will laugh at her jokes, fall for several characters (not necessarily in a romantic sense, just that I root for them) and get some reassurances that I’ll be able to figure everything out in my life, like why I can never figure out a third item for lists I write.
This book might not appeal to those who haven’t read and enjoyed other SEP books, specifically Fancy Pants
(Gah, that title, I know) and Lady Be Good
. Her series books tend to be massively self-referential, which can be enjoyable if you remember all the characters and storylines from her other books but I think it might/probably would hinder the enjoyment of those who are unfamiliar with her earlier work. Characters also show up from Glitter Baby
, What I Did For Love
, and First Lady
. Another point we discussed at book club was whether or not we enjoyed authors who set several books in the same world despite them not really being a series. (In case anyone is wondering, our book club pick was The Windup Girl
, whose author has written several other stories in the same world.) Feelings ran the gamut from love to author laziness. In the case of romance series, I appreciate the little glimpses we get into the lives of characters after their particular romantic stories have been told, but sometimes I get sick of reading about the “couple that is still head over heels who are still having wild sex and have several perfect children and perfect lives.” (*cough*Nora Roberts *cough*)This book was a little too heavy on the "Look! Those other characters are still in love!" but I still loved reading about Ted and Meg falling for each other.
The story in Call Me Irresistible
felt (maybe too) similar to Ain’t She Sweet
. Main female character that people believe is too entitled? Check. Made to work at a job that might be considered beneath her but she scrapes by and maintains her dignity and honor? Check. And she is ridiculed and made to feel unwelcome by the townspeople? Check. While the male romantic interest is a guy whose life she arguably ruined? Check. He treats her like dirt? Check. Until they fall in love? Check. Uh oh.
But I gave it four stars! (on Goodreads' 5 star scale, 7/10 here) That’s right, and I am sticking to my guns. I don’t care that it wasn’t very original. All I care about is that when I laid in my bed to go to sleep and picked this book up, I didn’t put it down until it was done.